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Early Childhood Bios

 

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Abby Berkowitz
Early Childhood Director

Abby Berkowitz has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2009. She has worked as a lower school teacher in multiple grades during her tenure at school. Abby also directs all of the lower school drama productions. Prior to her time at Mandel JDS, Abby was a youth director and choreographer for local youth theaters in the Cleveland area. She was also the youth services supervisor at the Mandel Jewish Community Center. She graduated from Ursuline College with her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a Fourth and Fifth Grade Endorsement and a Reading Endorsement. When not at school, Abby enjoys spending time with her family, being creative, and cooking in her kitchen.

 

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Hannah Balogh

Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher

Hannah Balogh has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2016. She has worked as an early childhood educator in Gan Garin 2’s and Gan Alonim Pre-K. Hannah also coaches the middle school soccer team. Hannah is a licensed Early Childhood Educator in the state of Ohio. She attended John Carroll University for her Bachelor’s degree and will continue her education to obtain a K-12 Reading Endorsement.  As a teacher in Jewish early childhood education, Hannah continues to be committed to supporting each child's approach towards learning in all areas of development. A professional goal of Hannah’s is to create a safe and nurturing environment for her students and their families. It is important for her to make each child feel valued and each parent’s voice heard. When not at school, Hannah enjoys cooking Pinterest recipes, spending time with her family in Youngstown, going on walks with her dog Bella, and refinishing furniture.

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Joni Berry

Gan Shoresh 3-Year-Old Teacher

Joni Berry joined the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in 2018.  Joni has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Miami.  Joni and her husband moved to Cleveland from south Florida where they lived for forty years raising their three children.  She is so excited to be joining a great staff and to share her ideas with the Gan Shoresh team. In her free time, Joni enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren, playing golf and traveling.

 
rRachel Browner
Gan Garin 2-year-old Teacher

This is Rachel Browner's first year teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School.  She is the proud mom of three Mandel JDS/Agnon graduates.  Prior to joining the Early Childhood staff, Rachel was the Education Program Coordinator at The Refugee Response. She also served as the  Experiential Learning Specialist at the Cleveland Institute of Art for many years. Earlier in her career, Rachel worked with newly arrived Russian immigrants in the Chicago metropolitan area and spent a year in Israel on Project Otzma.  Rachel earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Literature and a minor in Russian Language at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL as well as a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration at the University of Denver.  She recently completed a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Cleveland State University.  Rachel enjoys spending time with her family, reading, playing the piano and guitar, and being a part of Cleveland's amazing Jewish community.      

 

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Robin Freireich

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher

Robin Freireich has worked at Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2013.  She has taught Gan Shoresh and Gan Alonim. She has been the Aftercare Specialist for the last three years. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison there she earned a BS in Special Education. Robin taught Middle School and High School in the Cleveland Heights school system for twelve years. Her focus area was teaching kids with learning disabilities. More recently, she taught in the JCC’s Early Childhood Program for over six years. Robin enjoys gardening, reading, traveling, live theater, and exercising. Her favorite activity is spending time with her children and son-in-law.

 
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Zehava Galun
Early Childhood Hebrew Immersion Specialist

Zehava Galun has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for more than ten years as an Early Childhood educator.  She is currently the Hebrew Immersion language specialist enriching the growth and development of the Mandel JDS Early Childhood students on a daily basis. Prior to Mandel JDS, she worked at the Park Synagogue Preschool.  In her free time, she enjoys knitting and reading.

 
 
 
dDevorah Goldstein
Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher

Deborah Goldstein is new to the Early Childhood team this year. She has been in the education field for more than 10 years, teaching infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and pre-kindergarten aged students. Deborah received her B.S degree and P-3 licensure from Cleveland State University.  She currently has two daughters who attend Mandel JDS; Molly is in Kindergarten and Lilly is in Gan Garin. When not in school, Deborah can be found listening to music and enjoying the outdoors. She is very honored to be a part of this amazing community, as a faculty member, as well as a parent. 

 
 
 
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Brooke Horn
Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher

Brooke Horn joined Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in 2015. She started with the Gan Alonim class after completing her student teaching fourth grade. She has taught preschool for several years and has a Master's Degree as an Intervention Specialist and Reading Specialist from Notre Dame College, as well as a Master’s Degree in School Social Work from Case Western Reserve University. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

 
 
kKelly Kornblut
Gan Garin 2-year old Teacher

Kelly Kornblut is new to Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School as a preschool teacher, but she has been involved with the school for the last 12 years either as a parent, substitute teacher, or as SEGULA Aide. Kelly has a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications and Early Childhood Education from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Kelly and her husband, Hank live in Shaker Heights with their daughter Hannah who is a junior in college, their son Max who is a senior in high school, and their dog Buttons. In her free time, Kelly enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going for walks, playing golf, and traveling!

 
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Bonnie Kraus
Gan Garin 2-Year-Old Teacher

Bonnie Kraus has been a teacher at Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2014. Bonnie’s priority is meeting the individual needs of her students as they adjust to being at school for the first time, and providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to explore, create, learn and play.  She graduated from The Ohio State University, Cum Laude, in 1985 with a Bachelor’s of Science in English Education and from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1988 with a Juris Doctor. Bonnie worked for five years as an attorney and then "retired" to be home with her children, two of whom are Mandel JDS (then Agnon) graduates. Bonnie enjoys spending time with her husband Eddy, children, Rachel, Hannah and Jacob, and her dog Chelsey.  

 
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Eppie Miller
Gan Alonim Pre-K and Outdoor Education Teacher

Eppie Miller joined Joseph and Florence Jewish Day School in 2016 and teaches Pre-Kindergarten and our new Outdoor Learning Curriculum. She also tutors students in reading through A+ Solutions. Previously she was the Early Childhood Music & Movement teacher at Hawken School. When in North Carolina, she taught in a first through third grade classroom in a public Montessori School.  She earned a Master’s degree in Education with Early Childhood teaching licensure (grades PK – 3) from John Carroll University and a K–12 Reading Endorsement through Ohio Dominican University. As a student at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, she double majored in Religion and Psychology and minored in Dance. She has Handwriting without Tears, YogaKids® and Early Childhood Music & Movement Certifications. She is married to Michael Miller, a trumpet player with the Cleveland Orchestra, and has three children, Zachary (age 16), Ivy (age 13), and Nicholas (age 9). She enjoys traveling, experiencing natural areas, being creative, learning, and spending time with her family.

 
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Jill Leyser
Gan Nevet Teacher

Jill Leyser joined the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in 2016. She has been in the education field for more than 10 years. Jill received her Master’s degree in Early Childhood education and Pre-K - 3rd grade license from John Carroll University and a 4th-5th endorsement on her license.  She previously taught Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade in the City of Cleveland for a number of years. She currently has a daughter in second grade and a son in Gan Alonim at Mandel JDS. She is very proud to be both a staff member and parent at Mandel JDS.

 
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Kelli Pastor
Early Childhood Physical Education Teacher

Kelli Pastor has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for more than fifteen years as an Early Childhood educator. Kelli also teaches physical education  for Early Childhood and Kindergarten. Kelli graduated from Cleveland State University in 2004, with a Bachelor’s degree and teaching license in Early Childhood Education. In 2000, she completed an Associate’s Degree from Lakeland College in Art. Kelli continues to take graduate level courses towards her Master’s degree. In 2017 she wrote an ALICE safety plan for the Mandel Early Childhood department. In 2017, she was awarded the Albert B. Ratner and Jack & Esther Goldberg Israel Fellowship Educator Award. In 2018, she started as an appraiser/judge for Destination Imagination on behalf of West Geauga Schools. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, being with her dog Lukas, and spending time with friends and family.

 
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Julie Pilloff
Gan Shoresh 3-Year-Old Teacher

Julie Pilloff has been teaching in the Early Childhood Department at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2016. Julie received her Bachelor’s degree in special education from The Ohio State University.   She also has a Master's degree in special education, which she received from Cleveland State University. She has taught in the Shaker Heights City School system and has worked in the Orange City School System as well. Julie also teaches sixth grade on Sunday mornings at Suburban Temple Kol-Ami. She enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her family.

 
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Allison Proper
Gan Garin 2-Year-Old Teacher

Allison Proper has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day school in the Gan Garin class since 2015. She can also be found subbing throughout the building. Previously, Allison taught art enrichment for Mandel JDS’s Pre-K and art in a public school in Philadelphia. Allison also taught Sunday school to second graders.  Allison graduated from The University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Fine Arts and received her Master’s degree in teaching from The Maryland Institute, College of Art. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bike, hiking, and spending time with her family.  

 
mMelinda Silver
Gan Shoresh 3-year old Teacher

Melinda Silver has worked at Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since September 2019.  She received her Bachelor's degree in Child and Family Development from The University of Akron.  She has taught in early childhood education at the YMCA, Kindcare, Hutch Kids, and The University of Florida's Child Development and Research Center.  She was also an Assistant Director at The University of Florida's Child Development and Research Center. In her spare time, Melinda enjoys spending time with her husband, Daniel, and two children, Olivia and Jonah, baking, watching movies, musicals, and enjoys being outside. 

 
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Diane Wachsman
Gan Shoresh 3-Year-Old Teacher

Diane Wachsman has been working at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for more than fifteen years.  Before coming to Mandel JDS, she was an Independent Child Care Provider for 18 years, running her own home daycare business. Prior to her daycare business, Diane was a licensed beautician with children being her favorite customers. Diane lives with her husband Dave in South Euclid and together they have a daughter, Anna. In her free time, Diane enjoys camping, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

 
wMaggie Wise
Early Childhood Music Specialist
Maggie Wise has been the Early Childhood Music Specialist at Mandel JDS since 2015.  Maggie graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from the University of Wisconsin in 2000 and has over twenty years of experience performing and teaching music and theatre across the country.  Locally, Maggie has taught at the JCC, Ganon Gil Preschool, Park Preschool, PJ Library, Family Connections, Kindermusik, Stagecrafters and her private music studio. Maggie lives in Mayfield Village with Rob Ross and their daughter, Olive, who is a proud Mandel student.